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(1,113 words)

Author(s): Treml, Martin
Concept 1. Generally, the ancient Greek concept catharsis denotes ‘cleansing’ or ‘purification.’ By way of a determinate, prescribed action—usually cultic and ritual—a condition regarded as unclean is forsaken, and, either as novelty or anew, replaced with a state of purity. The opposition of clean and unclean is universal and enters a system of classification as an ordering of experiences (M. Douglas). In a more restricted sense, ‘catharsis’ is a medical expression, and denotes a procedure intended t…

Local Devotion

(1,251 words)

Author(s): Treml, Martin
1. By “local devotion” is meant the veneration of one or more higher powers in a particular → place, usually practiced by persons of a restricted group. These powers are effective only in limited ways, and they make no claim to generality. It may be a matter of numinous objects, protectors of a home, patrons of the → family, mythic tribal → ancestors, a matter of → heroes of various extraction, or, indeed, of gods, to whom an area, a grove, a precisely defined space, is assigned. It is their pos…


(1,199 words)

Author(s): Treml, Martin
1. ‘Immortality’ denotes an eternal duration of life, an existence without end and death. Principally, it counts as a characteristic of God or the gods, and constitutes one of the most important differences between their existence and that of human beings,1 who are therefore called ‘mortals.’ However, there are various approaches and transitions. The gods can die—only after a very long life, granted—as they, too (e.g. in certain Eastern religions), are caught in the chain of rebirths ( samsara). In addition, most religions celebrate extraordinary persons, who are snatched…